Take cover from the sunshine
Thayer Allyson Gowdy
"I have seen severe sunburn in babies because many sunscreen labels advise against using on infants, so parents take Baby outside with no protection."
--Amy Barton, M.D.
What to do Skipping sunscreen is only okay if your infant is dressed in long sleeves and a hat and kept under the constant protection of a sun shade, stroller, or tree, says Patricia Treadwell, M.D., a pediatric dermatologist in Indianapolis. Keep your baby indoors or at least out of the sun when rays tend to be strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Otherwise, use a squeeze of sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or above. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients. These two minerals are generally thought to be safe for infants because they act as a physical block to the sun, which means your Baby's skin doesn't absorb them.
Fight back against germs
"Enteroviruses, a family of germs that cause summer illnesses such as Coxsackie, thrive in warm weather and mostly affect young kids."
--Alicia Brennan, M.D.
What to do Year-round, teething babies will chew on toys that might be those germs to lead to sick days in summer. Alas, they do. Like the common cold, these viral illnesses, which can cause flu-like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, don't respond to antibiotics, but call your pediatrician if you have concerns you want to rule out. Otherwise, think like your winter self to prevent a summer bug: Wash your baby's hands and your own after playdates or errands, before meals, and after swimming in a pool or splashing in a fountain, since tots can trade germs with each other there.
Check daily for bug bites
"When winter is mild, Lyme disease from deer-tick bites increases."
--Alicia Brennan, M.D.
What to do Take action if you live or vacation near a heavily wooded area, which can have deer ticks that carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The best protection (for grown-ups too) is to dress in long sleeves with shirt tucked into pants and pants tucked into socks. No matter what your child wears, check him all over for ticks as part of your daily routine. Look for small black or brown spots that might be flat or puffy, and focus on warm hiding places, such as skin folds and the belly button. It takes about 36 hours for a tick to transmit the bacteria through its bite. By removing the tick before then (use tweezers), you can significantly reduce the risk of infection. If you notice a bite on your child, look to see if it turns into a red, circular rash, and watch for flu-like symptoms. Both may be signs of Lyme, so see your pediatrician.
For itchy bites from other bugs, wash with soap and water and dab on calamine lotion, Dr. Brennan says. If you see a stinger, use a credit card, not your fingers, to scrape it out, because you could accidentally spread more venom into your child's body.
Buy Baby sturdy shoes
"Painful objects like glass or sharp rocks can cut into babies' bare feet, and I've also seen first-degree burns from hot metal grates in sidewalks."
--Amy Barton, M.D.
What to do Take your toddler to be sized, and purchase well-fitting shoes. Sandals are fine, but they should be closed-toe and closed-back and have a bottom tread. Your footwear matters too. "I've seen parents who have fallen while holding their child because they were wearing flimsy sandals, and the child ended up with a broken arm, leg, or even skull fracture," Dr. Barton says. And don't drive in flip-flops. They can slip off and wedge under the brake or accelerator pedals, making you lose control at the wheel.
Care for those irritated eyes
"Just a grain of sand in a baby's eye can cause a painful scratch of the cornea within seconds."
--Gary Smith, M.D.
What to do Reinforce "no hands in eyes" when making sand piles. If particles do sneak in, gently pour lots of water (tap is fine) from a bottle into one side of the eye, so it washes across and drains on the other side. "In the ER, we often use an entire liter, and it can take five minutes or longer to rinse eyes well," Dr. Smith says. If your tot continues to be in pain after rinsing, her cornea may be scratched; see a doctor. Scratches usually heal within 24 to 48 hours, Dr. Smith says. That's reassuring, but here's hoping you and your Baby don't miss a single summer day for a hospital visit.
Originally published in the June 2013 issue of American Baby magazine.
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